Can My Job Still Fire Me For Getting High on My Own Time? Your Arizona Legal Weed Questions Answered

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

By Bree Burkitt

December 30, 2020

We asked an attorney some of the biggest questions about recreational weed in Arizona.

Recreational marijuana is now legal thanks to Arizona voters.

However, legal weed seems to have brought more questions than answers, ranging from where you can smoke to getting your hands on seeds to start growing plants at home.

The Copper Courier sat down with Russ Richelsoph, a partner at Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, PLLC, in Phoenix to get all the answers. 

Where Can I Smoke?

There’s a lot of rules surrounding where you can’t smoke. Prop 207 — the proposition that legalized recreational marijuana — says weed can’t be smoked in public, which includes cars. Numerous cities have since approved additional restrictions on where weed can and can’t be consumed. 

“Walking down the street whether you’re in Oldtown Scottsdale or Mille Avenue and you’re smoking marijuana — that’s a crime,” Richelsoph said. 

Richelsoph said the only place it’s really safe to smoke weed is on your own private property, including your home and backyard. Smoking at a friend’s house is fine too as long as they give you permission. 

Remember that the Smoke-Free Arizona law that applies to cigarettes and vaping also applies to smoking marijuana, which includes places like hotel rooms, bars, and other places where smoking isn’t allowed. 

Can My Landlord Tell Me I Can’t Smoke at Home?

There really isn’t a blanket answer for this one, according to Richelsoph. It’s really going to depend on what’s in the lease. Apartments and rented houses are private property, but the landlord has the final authority on whether marijuana can be smoked in or on the property.

If the lease says marijuana usage isn’t allowed, the landlord does have the legal right to evict the tenant if they violate the lease even though weed is legal. 

“They have the authority to say you can’t smoke marijuana on the property,” Richelsoph said. 

Can I Get Fired for Using Marijuana Now That It’s Legal?

You can absolutely get fired for smoking a joint — even if it’s on your own time. 

“If your employer has a drug-free workplace and has random drug testing policies in place and you get caught, you could be terminated,” Richelsoph said. 

This is because Arizona is an at-will employment state, meaning employers are free to hire or fire employees for pretty much any reason, so long as it’s legal, including for using drugs or alcohol.

The only exception is if you have a medical marijuana card, which comes with its own set of legal protections.

I Can Just Buy Seeds Online, Right?

Arizonans can now also grow up to six plants per adult over the age of 21, with up to 12 per household. 

However, don’t go ordering seeds online as Richelsoph said you could find yourself in violation of federal law. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

“Once you start putting marijuana — whether seeds, plants, buds, or cartridges — and you put it in an envelope and put a US postage stamp on it, you’re now committing a federal crime,” Richelsoph explained. “So, please don’t do that.”

In short, anyone looking to grow their own plants will have to buy them from an in-state vendor. 

Can I Buy Weed in Arizona and Take it to Another State?

Weed is now legal in Arizona and the neighboring states of California, Nevada, and Colorado. 

But that doesn’t mean you can take marijuana legally purchased in one state to another.

“Interstate transit of marijuana is a federal crime,” Richelsoph said. 

Crossing state lines with weed — even if it’s legally purchased — violates federal interstate transit laws. 

If someone is caught doing this, they would be charged with a federal crime, ranging from possession to intent to distribute, depending on the quantity. Either way, Richelsoph warned it won’t be good. 

READ MORE: What Arizonans Need to Know About Weed and Driving

Have any questions about the ins and outs of recreational weed? Send them to [email protected]


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